The second half of the season sneaks in just before the Christmas break and we are treated to a visit from one of our fellow Exile teams. Our two clubs met in the second round of matches on a glorious day at Hazelwood and Welsh ran in four tries to win 31-5.
The result was still in the balance at half time with a narrow 11-5 lead but a much improved second half pushed London Welsh further ahead without the home team being able to add any further points. The try scorers that day were Ben West, Paulo Peschisolido, Liam Chennels and Jack Anderson with Osian McAvoy adding a conversion and three penalties.
Irish have won just three games this season, all of which have been at home. London Cornish fell to them 22-16, Cobham were beaten by one point whilst KCS Old Boys also finished within a single score. The defeats have been heavier though with the biggest an 89-0 home loss against Camberley. These scorelines have contributed to a points difference of -268, the second worst in the league. Sixteen league points, including four bonus points, place Irish eleventh in the league. They are one point clear of Farnham and eleven ahead of bottom placed London Cornish but with no relegation the pressure is off this season.
London Welsh bounced back from the Guildford defeat with a resounding eight try victory over Chichester. Paulo Peschisolido crossed twice to extend his lead in the try scorer list (now with 8 this term) whilst Jack Anderson’s try makes him top of the forwards in that table. Welsh hold a six point lead over second-placed Camberley and have a nine point cushion to the bottom of the promotion zone. There’s plenty to play for and the chasing pack will give it their all to keep the pressure on.
It was good to see the return of long term absentee Andy May in Round 13, the hooker playing gis first match at 1st XV level since 2018. In Round 14 we will see the return to availability for in for centre Matt Pollen (missing for Round 12 and 13). Saturday may also see a first 1st XV call up for winger Jonathan Llori as the GB athlete continued his Rugby conversion story with 4 tries for the Druids last time out. Tom Baldwin also comes back into contention after a successfull return from Covid 19 with the Druids over the weekend. Osian McAvoy will also be jostling for a 1st XV return having featured for the Druids on Saturday. Perhaps the most exciting squad news this weekend is the potential return of Captain Chris Lilly. The Irish u20s International has not featured this season since pulling a hamstring at Cardiff RFC in pre season. Chris is pushing for a welcome return and could feature against his fellow countrymen. Rhys Howells may also return after featuring a rib in Round 12 and missing Round 13.
Continued absentees with longer term injury will include: Luke Crocker (shoulder), Tom Williams (hamstring), Ollie Fulljames (hamstring), Jonny Miles (hand), Jack Burnett (knee), Ben Watts (foot), Jag Mahal (leg). Unavailable this weekend: Liam Chennells (returning from.Dubai 7s), Jack Butler (flu), Will Ponty (away), Matt Williams (away), Tim Ross (away).
Kick off on Saturday is at 2pm and this will be a family day at ODP. Planned events include the ever popular pre-match lunch and the Choir will be providing festive entertainment. The various club bars will be open and hot food will be available for purchase. As ever, entry remains free of charge!